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Harvard Graduate School of Design to Create Visiting Professorship in Honor of John Portman

Oct 24, 2012
John Portman and Mohsen Mostafavi

Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD) announced this week that it will name a distinguished visiting professorship in architecture in honor of John Portman, Founder and Chairman of John Portman & Associates, a leading design firm based in Atlanta, Georgia.

John Portman, a graduate of the Georgia Institute of Technology, is an American architect who has designed iconic buildings and cityscapes that have redefined and revitalized the urban environment.  Mr. Portman’s career has spanned nearly fifty years and produced projects in more than sixty cities throughout the world. He has expanded his role into that of entrepreneur and real estate developer, creating projects such as Peachtree Center in Atlanta, Embarcadero Center in San Francisco, and Shanghai Center in Shanghai. He is also a prolific painter and sculptor, with works exhibited internationally. Many members of his immediate family have attended various schools at Harvard, including his son Jack Portman, GSD M.Arch ’73, the CEO of John Portman & Associates. 

“John Portman is one of the most innovative designers of his generation,” said Dean Mohsen Mostafavi. “I am delighted that the GSD will honor his bold vision.  His holistic and comprehensive approach to creating urban environments has allowed us to rethink how we activate and revitalize our cities. The Portman Chair will bring leading architects to our campus with a variety of perspectives and backgrounds to share with our students. It is my intention that the holders of the Portman Chair will, in turn, benefit and inspire generations of designers to think expansively about how they will contribute to the transformation of our societies, just as Mr. Portman has throughout his career.” 

The John Portman Visiting Chair in Architecture will create a special opportunity for the GSD to bring internationally recognized designers to campus in a sustained role. This position provides an important chance for esteemed practitioners to engage in the life of Harvard for an extended period of time, ranging from one to three years. The Portman Chair creates a worthwhile complement to traditional faculty structures, offering a flexible appointment for a leading practitioner and programmatic support to ensure the chair holder's maximum impact while in residence. In addition to providing for the role itself, the Portman Chair will include research assistance, the curation and organization of exhibitions, and production of related publications. 

“Educating future generations of designers who will shape our world is one of the most important contributions I can make to my field,” said Mr. Portman. “This professorship will provide opportunities for students to hear from and work with a dynamic cohort of leading practitioners who will inspire them to think in new ways about how to improve the world around them. Under Dean Mostafavi’s leadership, the GSD provides a vibrant environment in which this type of exchange can take place, and I am delighted to be able to have my name associated with this exciting work.”

Photo: Nicole Portman, © 2012

 



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